Booterstown Marsh development met with strong opposition

by Gary Ibbotson

LOCAL conservation groups and politicians are objecting to a proposed development on the periphery of the protected Booterstown Marsh on Rock Road.

Paddy McKillen Jnr’s Soundvale Ltd has filed planning permission with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Dublin City Council for the development of a five-storey “biodiversity” centre on the edge of the marsh which includes a café, creche, gym and swimming pool.

Planning permission has been filed with both local authorities due to the marsh sprawling over county boundaries.

The site on which the development is proposed for is located between Merrion Gates and the marsh, opposite the recently demolished Tara Towers hotel.

However, An Taisce and environmental group Friends of Booterstown Coast (FoBC) are calling on the local authorities to reject the plans saying the development will be detrimental to the marsh – a protected nature reserve.

Both groups say the project will harm the flora and fauna of the neighbouring marsh and especially it’s rare bird population which includes “moorhens, reed buntings, sedge warblers, teals, snipes, lapwings, oystercatchers, redshanks, dunlins, and brent geese.”

An Taisce says that “as the only remaining saltmarsh on the south shore of Dublin Bay, the Booterstown reserve is one the city’s key biodiversity areas.

“It forms part of the South Dublin Bay and River Tolka Estuary and is itself a pNHA (proposed Natural Heritage Area), a designation that extends into the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown portion of the application site.”

DLRCoCo and DCC have the earmarked land zoned as a “green network” space with the construction of commercial developments only permitted under exceptional circumstances.

Independent Senator Victor Boyhan, says that the earmarked land should be kept as a green-field site.

“The site is unique in that it falls within the Local Government Administrative Area of both Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Dublin City Council.

“Having represented the residents of Booterstown and Blackrock for many years as a councillor and as someone who has been active in An Taisce locally, I would strongly advocate that the site should only be used as open space and not for commercial use.

“I believe the time has come for both Local Authorities to come together and review the zoning objectives for the lands between Merrion Gates and Blackrock Park with a view to securing their future as a nature reserve,” he said.

Green Party councillor for the Blackrock area, Séafra Ó Faoláin says that more questions may have to be answered by the developers.

“Broadly, a biodiversity centre that threatens biodiversity is not justifiable,” he says.

“Similarly, if the applicant cannot guarantee that there is no disruption to important climate action projects, such as the Sutton 2 Sandycove Cycleway, then this should not go ahead as currently envisaged.

“I am in agreement with the thrust of the submissions made by FoBC and An Taisce.”

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